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Pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs: Innovative approach to reshaping Nigeria’s pharma industry

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Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s health systems are over dependent on international markets. Up to 70% of pharmaceutical products are imported. Local vaccine production capacities address less than 1% of the local demand in value.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that African countries need to become self-reliant and boost their own pharma production. Hence, African governments—like many others worldwide—have intensified efforts towards developing their local pharmaceutical sectors to ensure a minimum level of supply security for health products.

In Nigeria, several factors contribute to the poor local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. They include the high cost of pharmaceutical manufacturing, a lack of supportive infrastructure for the regulatory compliance of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, poor regulatory policies, and limited access to affordable and reasonable funding, among others. These challenges not only limit local medicine production, but they also make it difficult for Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector to compete globally and take part in global tenders.

While it is difficult for individual pharmaceutical companies to address these challenges, adopting a collective approach could help solve them. It is for this purpose—to sustainably tackle these challenges—that Bloom Public Health, commenced the Pharmacity Project to establish pharmaceutical manufacturing parks in various states across Nigeria.

Bloom Public Health’s Pharmacity Project: Concept and Benefits

The Pharmacity Project refers to the development of compact modern-day pharmaceutical industrial estates that bring together pharmaceutical companies of various sizes, service providers, and companies providing support services to co-locate and share infrastructure.

The concept of Pharmacity is to have multiple pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs (pharma parks) in different locations within Nigeria, with the vision of creating a sustainable environment to make quality medicines available and affordable.

Each of the industrial parks is intended to tilt towards different aspects of the pharmaceutical manufacturing value chain, such as the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and excipients, finished pharmaceutical products, research and development, vaccines and biologics, etc.

This strategic pharmaceutical intervention strives to tackle Nigeria’s unmet needs for both demand and supply of medicines by increasing Nigeria’s medicine and health product manufacturing capacity and enabling her to reach her full potential while maintaining strict adherence to international standards.

Benefits of Pharmacity

Pharmacity holds tremendous benefits for Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector and the healthcare system. They include:

1. Lucrative investment opportunities: Reduction of the cost of production of medicine and health products, leading to better profit margins.

2. Regulatory compliance: Creating opportunities for reduced bottlenecks in obtaining regulatory approval, as the parks will host regulatory agencies, thus ensuring adherence to quality standards and regulatory guidelines.

3. Medicine security: Production of premium-grade health products that are easily accessible and affordable for the population.

4. Export potential: Facilitating increased competitiveness of these products in the international market for export and improved foreign exchange earnings.

5. Sustainable and resilient supply chain: Creating a more resilient medicine supply chain that is less vulnerable to external shocks and other eventualities, thus ensuring medicine security and sustainability in the supply chain.

6. Economic development: A competitive pharmaceutical industry will create an economically viable industrial base, and thus contribute to economic growth, reduce dependence on imports, create quality jobs, and improve the trade balance.

Partnerships and stakeholder engagement

Bloom Public Health is implementing the Pharmacity Project through strategic partnerships with various state governments in Nigeria and collaboration with investors, industry professionals, and other stakeholders.

The Pharmacity Project promotes a collaborative ecosystem that facilitates networking, knowledge sharing, and potential partnerships, allowing investors to leverage the collective expertise and resources available within the parks.

Key stakeholders include academia for research and development, pharma manufacturers of all forms of medicines, quality control specialists, regulatory agencies, supply chain experts, warehousing operators, logistics and distribution companies, donor agencies, private sector investors, support services (banks, schools, hotels, hospitals, etc.), and utility providers (water, waste treatment and disposal companies, power companies, etc.).

Through strategic stakeholder engagement, Bloom Public Health is establishing a synergy between all stakeholders, mobilising resources, advocating for the creation of policies, and providing a support system for the development of state-of-the-art pharmaceutical industrial parks (Pharma parks) across Nigeria.

Achievements so far…

Following the ground breaking ceremony in Ebonyi State, Bloom Public Health, in partnership with the Ebonyi State Government and the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria, has commenced the physical construction of a pharmaceutical park (Salt City Pharma Park) on 100 hectares of land donated by the State Government.

Read also: Why progress in healthcare will be difficult without clinical pharmacists, by Ikeme

Bloom Public Health has also partnered with the Anambra State Government to establish a pharmaceutical park (Ogboji Pharma Park) in Anambra State, Nigeria. The proposed site for the manufacturing hub sits on 200 hectares of land.

Similarly, some other state governments are also seeking partnerships with Bloom Public Health for the establishment of industrial pharmaceutical manufacturing parks in their states.

In conclusion

The establishment of pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs in Nigeria is an innovative approach to developing a local pharmaceutical industry that can sustainably offer affordable access to medicines that fit the local epidemiological profile at a quality aligned with international standards. Bloom Public Health is committed to supporting this initiative in order to tackle the current local supply gap and achieve medicine security in Nigeria and on the continent.